New documentary calls for 'dignified life' for Asian garment workers

Fri Jun 10, 2016 12:44pm EDT
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By Anuradha Nagaraj

CHENNAI, India (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - "He offered me $ 75, a mobile phone and told me to get into bed with him if I wanted work," said Nabita, who works in a clothing factory in the Indian capital New Delhi.

Her testimony is part of a new documentary recording the first hand accounts of garment workers and their daily struggles in the face of poor pay, excessive overtime, unsafe working conditions and widespread sexual harassment.

"Do you think that workers who are producing high-level fashion for the global market should be living like rats?" asked Anannya Bhattacharjee of the Asia Floor Wage Alliance, a workers' lobby group.

"We think that workers should be having a wholesome life, a dignified life for themselves and their families."

Asia accounts for more than 60 percent of the world's garment production, with the industry employing more than 15 million people directly, most of them women.

Activists say the minimum wage set by most Asian countries is not enough to lift workers out of poverty.

"Living Wage Now!", a film by Asia Floor Wage Alliance, calls for a standard wage to cover a family's basic needs, including housing, education and healthcare, with some money left over for emergencies.

In the documentary, workers from Cambodia, India, Bangladesh and Indonesia, make the same demand.   Continued...